Gathering resources for your job search
Networking is your way to gather information, further focus your job search objectives and learn about trends in the field, all while meeting new people and establishing contacts and relationships.
A network is an interconnected group of supporters who serve as resources for your job search and ultimately for your career. Some great network contacts might include people you meet at business and social gatherings who provide you with career information and advice.
A skill that only develops with practice
Students often hesitate to network because they feel awkward asking for help, but it should be an integral part of any job search. Though you might feel nervous when approaching a potential contact, networking is a skill that develops with practice, so don't give up. Most people love to talk about themselves and their jobs and are willing to give realistic — and free — advice.
Your strategy should involve individuals who can give you information and contacts on careers, referrals, trends and the politics involved with job options that you are considering as a career. Meetings can be as casual as, "Can I ask you a few questions?" to cold-calling, or arranging an appointment. Regardless, keep in touch with these contacts and utilize their information to find the career or position you desire.
Benefits of networking
- Gain knowledge of specific jobs and career options
- Make contacts for referrals in the job search process
- Use appropriate language in cover letters and résumés
- Acquire knowledge to use in responding to interview questions
- Increase confidence in your chosen field
- Learn behaviors of professionals in this field
- Build mentorship and/or future peer relationships with those in your field
Six rules of networking
- Get started: Identify your contacts, request an information interview with them, keep records of your networking activities (telephone calls made, appointments scheduled, etc.).
- Present yourself well: Have an agenda of what you want to accomplish and be prepared with questions. Be professional and have a winning attitude.
- Learn something: Be open to learn from contacts, even if they don't know a lot about your particular job search area. Try to keep things centered on your goal, obtaining more information and more leads.
- Get TWO referrals: Ask for two (2) referrals from each of your contacts. This is the essence of networking!
- Follow up on referrals: Contact the people whose names you obtained in the referral process by telephone or introductory letter.
- Make a lasting impression: Send thank you letters and follow up with your contacts a month or two after your original meeting. Staying in touch is critical to your long-term success!
Business card starter set
Available to current SFA students, the Center for Career and Professional Development will design and print 10 free business cards upon request!